Against the Arizona Diamondbacks and facing their ace pitcher Zack Greinke away from Coors Field, this looked like a preview of what the Colorado Rockies offense might face during a one game Wild Card playoff. It was the kind of game they needed to find some way to win. Nolan Arenado showed them how, driving in four of the five Rockies runs and making a great diving stop to lead the team to a 5-4 victory.
Kyle Freeland took the mound for the Rockies but did not have his best control. The Diamondbacks loaded the bases in the second inning and plated a run when Greinke bounced a groundball up the middle. Freeland instinctively reached for it with his bare hand, slowing the ball down and deflecting it away from the Rockies infielders, allowing J.D. Martinez to score. However, Brandon Drury tried to score after Mark Reynolds recovered the ball and was thrown out easily, ending the inning and getting the Rockies out of the jam.
The Rockies tied the score back in the top of the third inning when Jonathan Lucroy lined a shot off the center field wall just a foot shy of a home run but good enough for a triple. It looked like he might be stranded there as Greinke got Freeland to ground out then made Charlie Blackmon look absolutely silly on a strikeout. But, DJ LeMahieu was able to lace a single to right field to score Lucroy, evening the score at a run a piece.
Freeland started the fourth inning but was removed from the game when Martinez lined a drive off of Freeland’s left shoulder. Better safe than sorry, he was replaced by Tyler Anderson who was making his first appearance since returning from the disabled list. Martinez advanced to second on Anderson’s wild pitch, stole third base, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Rosales to give the Diamondbacks a 2-1 edge. Freeland’s final line was three innings and two earned runs allowed courtesy of four walks and three hits, with just one strikeout.
The Rockies evened it up in the sixth inning off Greinke after LeMahieu pulled a double against the outfield shift, scoring on Nolan Arenado’s double to even the score at two runs a piece. Greinke would throw a clean seventh and leave the game allowing just five hits and two runs, no walks, while striking out six Rockies.
Anderson, meanwhile, put out a great effort of his own. He gave up just one hit and no walks in four innings of work while striking out four batters. He did throw an additional wild pitch in the seventh inning but he closed out the frame, coming back from a 3-0 count to strike out pinch hitter Christian Walker. He also got some help from Nolan Arenado in the bottom of the sixth...
The Rockies broke the game open against the Diamondbacks bullpen in the top of the eighth. The first two relievers, J.J. Hoover and Andrew Chafin, got Raimel Tapia and Charlie Blackmon to strike out respectively. However, Jake Barrett didn’t experience the same success. He allowed a triple to DJ LeMahieu then walked Carlos Gonzalez, putting runners on the corners for Arenado, who promptly put one into the bleachers for a three run home run. Payback for a fan who dared to heckle the Sandblaster in the on deck circle.
With a 5-2 lead, Jake McGee came in for the eighth and got Wily Peralta to fly out to left. However, he walked Chris Iannetta so Pat Neshek was brought in to replace him. Neshek had a rough time of it. A double by AJ Pollock put runners on second and third. He then induced two groundballs, one of which scored Iannetta as LeMahieu threw Goldschmidt out at first. Pollack scored when Reynolds’ couldn’t corral Arenado’s throw on Martinez’s groundball, resulting in a single and the Rockies lead whittled down to 5-4. After giving up a single to Drury, Neshek was replaced by Mike Dunn who got Daniel Descalso to fly out to center and end the threat.
Greg Holland came in for his 40th save but things got a little tense with his shaky control, throwing fifteen pitches with only six strikes. He got Ketel Marte to ground out, but an error on LeMahieu allowed Jake Lamb to reach. Holland walked Peralta on four straight pitches but was able to get Iannetta to fly out to right field. A wild pitch, the Rockies third wild one of the game, allowed the tying and winning run to advance into scoring position, but Holland was able to get Pollock to ground out to Trevor Story.
The Rockies play game two of the four game series on Tuesday. Taijuan Walker, who struck out ten Rockies back on September 1st, will face Jon Gray. First pitch is scheduled for 7:40 PM MST.